Gabon: Smashing Through the Jungle

The perils and challenges of building a new railway

"Crack, craack, craaaack," booms the sound through the rain forest. As the yellow 60-ton bulldozers smash ahead, one 70-ft. okoume tree after another trembles, then teeters and finally topples. With each fall, the jungle itself seems to shiver: venomous black and green mambas slither to safety through walls of vines; gorillas caper away in terror; mauve, violet and golden butterflies settle like confetti on the dozers, or bulls, as the workers call them. Finally, as dusk settles in, a single tree remains in the clearing, a majestic 120-ft. hardwood. Their 450-h.p. engines screaming, shrouded in black smoke, the monsters of steel...

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